Talking It Over With Younger Workers—No. 1

A Debt More Pressing Than Money

By CHARLES T. EVERSON, Evangelist and Bible Lecturer, Potomac Conference

Although financial debts often weigh quite heavily upon us, there is a debt much more serious than any money con­sideration. Wealth, influence, and social stand­ing weighed very little with tile apostle Paul when he put the weight of eternal glory on the other side of the scales. But one debt that be was never able to fully discharge overshadowed all others, and in his endeavors to pay it, he worked unceasingly day and night. He speaks about it in Romans 1:14: "I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise."

This debt consisted of his duty to preach the gospel to all men, whether they were wise or unwise, Greeks or barbarians. In other words, no matter what a person's standing might be nationally or intellectually, Paul felt he person­ally owed him a great debt, and he was willing to go to any length to pay this debt.

Every person he met who did not know the gospel, he immediately put down on his list as a man to whom he owed a debt. Most of us worry about getting our debts paid, and feel a great sense of relief when we have finally been able to pay them. Paul felt the same way about preaching the gospel. It was not a mat­ter of whether he was commended for working for the salvation of souls. It was an obligation pressing upon him as strongly as financial debts press upon an honest man.

Paul goes so far as to pronounce a woe upon himself for any failure in this respect. We read in 1 Corinthians 9:16: "Yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel." He did not regard this matter of trying to convert every­one with whom he came in contact as something optional, but he says, "For necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel." Or as Goodspeed translates it : "As far as preaching the good news is con­cerned, that is nothing for me to boast of, for I cannot help doing it. For I am ruined if I do not preach. For if I do it of my own accord, I have my pay, but if I do it because I must, it is still a responsibility that I am charged with."

This responsibility always weighed heavily upon the apostle Paul, and he did not go about discharging this obligation in any halfhearted way. He says in Romans 1 :15 : "So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also." He was willing to put into this preaching of the gospel "as much as in me is." In other words, he was willing to put everything into the work of preaching the gospel. Goodspeed translates it: "So for my part, I am eager to preach the good news to you at Rome also." The last word, "also," indi­cates that this eagerness to put his whole soul into the work of preaching the gospel was not dependent upon the fact that he was speaking of the great city of Rome as his field of labor, but he was carrying out here the same program that he followed in all his work.

This eagerness and zeal of the apostle never became dim with the passing of the years. The preaching of the gospel was as dear and fresh to him when he finally finished his course as it was when he first began.

In Acts 28:23 we read of his sojourn in Rome : "And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the king­dom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening." People came to his lodging, and there he preached the gospel to them from morning to evening. And the thirtieth verse says, "Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto Him." He not only worked untiringly for all that came to him, but he also preached the gospel to the very men the Roman government put as guards over him. Thus he could write in the book to the Philippians: "All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household."

It is said that the better families of the city of Rome often had their sons in the imperial guard, members of which guarded Paul. Some of these rich men's sons were converted to the gospel through association with Paul as his guards.

When Paul said, "As much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also," he certainly meant every word of it, as his life in Rome fully testified. He was seventy years old when he laid his burdens down on the execution grounds just outside the city of Rome. And at that time he could still say, "So, for my part, I am eager to preach the good news to you at Rome, also."

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By CHARLES T. EVERSON, Evangelist and Bible Lecturer, Potomac Conference

March 1944

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